2013 full of great play from great players

By Doug FergusonDecember 10, 2013, 8:59 pm

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Wanting to return among the elite in golf, Graeme McDowell mapped out a plan last fall. He figured out how many ranking points he would need to get back into the top five in the world.

And he went about it the right way. It started with his win at the World Challenge a year ago. He won at Hilton Head on the PGA Tour. He won the World Match Play Championship and the French Open on the European Tour. He was third at World Golf Championships in Doral and Shanghai.

''I've got to say, I got pretty close to that target that I set myself,'' McDowell said.

Little did he know how much the target would be moving in an extraordinary year for golf.

McDowell ended last year at No. 15 in the world. Now he is all the way up to No. 12.

''I wasn't really factoring on how many great players around me were going to have incredible seasons,'' McDowell said. ''So making an impact in that top 10 in the world has been very difficult to do this year because you just get so many guys playing incredibly well.''

Call it bad timing for McDowell, and happy days for golf.

Rarely has the golf season – men and women – felt so rewarding for so many players. Perhaps that explains why Tiger Woods could win five times – more than any other player in the world – capture the PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average, and then listen to people discuss the definition of Player of the Year and whether he is worthy without having won a major.

Woods won the vote as the best player on the PGA Tour.

He is used to playing under a different set of standards, a victim of his own success. Anyone else with five trophies from the courses where he won – Torrey Pines, Doral, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass and Firestone – and there would be a debate.

But this wasn't just any other year.

Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters, and along the way earned redemption from blowing the British Open nearly nine months earlier. He had the outright lead on the back nine at the British Open this year before faltering. A month later, he won The Barclays during the FedEx Cup playoffs, arguably one of the strongest fields of the year with the tour's top 125 players who are all on form.

When he finally went home to show off his green jacket, Scott won the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Masters, and then teamed with Jason Day to give Australia its first World Cup title in 24 years. He was poised to capture Australia's Triple Crown until Rory McIlroy beat him on the last hole in the Australian Open.

A better year than Woods? Probably not, though it depends how much weight is given a major.

Perhaps a better question: Did he have a better year than Phil Mickelson?

Lefty came within a cruel lip-out of shooting a 59 in the Phoenix Open, which he wound up winning. Showing off a short game like no other, his chip on the 18th hole at Castle Stuart gave him a victory in the Scottish Open. And his Sunday at Muirfield gets little debate over the best round of the year. Mickelson made four birdies on the last six holes for a 66 to capture the one major that not even he thought he could win.

Who won the most meaningful major this year? Mickelson or Scott? Best to save that argument for the bar.

Not to be forgotten is Henrik Stenson, who in April wasn't even eligible for the Masters. He finished one shot behind in the Shell Houston Open, which got him to Augusta National. But it was the summer when the Swede began to shine.

A tie for third in the Scottish Open. Runner-up at the British Open. Runner-up at Firestone (by seven shots to Woods), third at the PGA Championship. He won two FedEx Cup Playoff events to win the $10 million FedEx Cup. And for good measure, he won the final event in Europe to become the first player to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season.

Missing from the equation this year was the guy who started the year at No. 1 – McIlroy. He still had a good view.

''You've got Tiger with five wins this year. Adam breaks through for his first major. Phil wins the major he thinks he's never going to win. Henrik comes back,'' McIlroy said. ''Yeah, it's deep. You've got to play really well to win. ... But I think golf is in great shape.''

On the LPGA, the points-based Player of the Year came down to the next to last week, even though Inbee Park had won three straight majors among her six titles. Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis won the other majors. Lewis won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Pettersen had a chance to win the money title until she faltered in the Titleholders.

That's what inspired LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to say, ''Sports are at their absolute best ... when the best athletes in that sport are having the best years of their lives.''

It's hard to say with certainty that Woods was at his absolute best, and not just because he didn't win a major. It used to be that when Woods was at his best, there was not enough wealth to go around. Now there is.

What a year.

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Key stats from Woods' historic win at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:47 pm

Tiger Woods won his 80th career PGA Tour title on Sunday with a two-stroke victory at the Tour Championship. Here are the key stats from the final round at East Lake.

• 80th career PGA Tour win; first since 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

• Two wins behind Sam Snead for most in PGA Tour history

• Snead was 47 years old when he won his 80th career PGA Tour title (Woods is 42)

• 43-for-45 converting outright 54-hole leads in PGA Tour career

• 24-for-24 converting 54-hole leads of three or more shots

• First win in 1,876 days; 118 players won on PGA Tour between Woods' wins

• Third career Tour Championship victory (most all-time)

• Has won Tour Championship in three different decades (1999, 2007, 2018)

• Fifth PGA Tour event won in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s)

• Projected to move to 13th in World Ranking with victory

• Was ranked 1,199 before beginning of 2017 Hero World Challenge

• Snead won 11 times after turning 43 (Woods turns 43 in December)

• Eighth PGA Tour win in Georgia; fourth-most of any state (Fla., Calif., Ohio)

• Extended lead to four strokes with birdie on first hole of round

• Second in field in strokes gained: putting this week

• First in field in scrambling this week (17-for-24)

• Finished second in FedExCup; was making first Tour Championship start since 2013

• Led field in one-putt percentage this week (51.4%)

• Finishes season first on PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)

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Rose captures FedExCup, $10 million

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

ATLANTA – Like the “Price is Right” big wheel, $10 million spun around and around on Sunday, waiting to land on someone. It rolled past Dustin Johnson, looked like it was going to settle on Tiger Woods, and then made a final tick to rest on an ecstatic Justin Rose.

Rose won the FedExCup title on Sunday at the Tour Championship, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 18th to secure the big bonus. Woods, who won the tournament, finished second, with Bryson DeChambeau third.

Rose entered the final round as the projected winner, tied for second in the event, three shots back of Woods. However, it was a struggle from the start for the – now former – world No. 1. Rose made four bogeys and one birdie over his first 15 holes, and when he bogeyed the par-4 16th, the scenario became clear: Play the last two in 1 under or lose the cup.


Final FedExCup results and payout breakdown

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Johnson had an outside shot at claiming the $10 million, but parred the last. He finished in solo third place, four back of Woods.

Woods, meanwhile, was in command of the tournament from the start on Sunday. He played steadily, for the most part, and no one provided a challenge. In order to win the cup, he needed to win the event – which was close to a lock all day – and Rose needed to finish in a three-way tie for fifth or worse.

So, here he was, Rose, tied for SIXTH place on the 18th hole. A birdie and he’d jump into a three-way tie for fourth – as well as into a mountain of cash.

Rose hit the par-5 18th in two and successfully two-putted to clinch the cup. He didn’t win a playoff event, but his MC-2-2-T4 results were good enough, points wise, to capture the season-long race.

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Social media explodes over Tiger's 80th win

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

After a five-year hiatus, Tiger Woods made his triumphant return to the winner's circle on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

As evidenced by a quick look at social media, Woods' win set the golf world on fire, with everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Michelle Wie sending their congratulations to the 42-year-old.

Here are the best reactions from a wild Sunday at East Lake, where Woods claimed PGA Tour victory No. 80:

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Highlights: Tiger's final round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:40 pm

Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday by two strokes. Here are the highlights from the final round.

Woods got off to a great start with a birdie on No. 1.


He then made eight straight pars to close out the front nine in 1 under par. Woods started the back nine with a bogey at 10, but he rebounded with this birdie at No. 13.


Woods leaked some oil coming in with bogeys at 15 and 16, but this par putt on 17 gave him a crucial two-stroke lead heading to 18.


For the fourth straight day, Woods smoked his drive on 18.


A huge gallery followed Woods up the 18th hole.


Woods missed his birdie putt on 18, but it was an easy par for a two-stroke victory and win No. 80.